The Bush League The Bush League


Can of Gas & A Match (2012)

Release Date: December 11, 2012
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Recorded: June 17, 2012 at Young Avenue Sound Recording Studios, Memphis, TN
Engineered and Mixed by: Ari Morris at Young Avenue Sound Recording Studios, Memphis, TN
Mastered: Stonebridge Mastering Studios, Memphis, TN

Album Art Design: Keith Ramsey  Insert Photos: Chandler Moulton

Album Review

It’s rare that a CD comes along, grabs you by the shoulders, pulls you in by the first four notes and refuses to let you go until you’ve heard the last chord, but that’s the case with Can Of Gas & A Match, the product of an upcoming quartet from Richmond, Va. It’s a fiery dose of modern blues with a no-excuses heavy dose of Hill Country with a taste Piedmont, Delta and Chicago stylings thrown in for good measure.

If you’ve been lucky enough to attend the International Blues Challenge in Memphis during the past few years, you might be familiar with this group. Co-founders Sleepy Eyed Jay (vocalist JohnJason Cecil) and Chicago Slim (guitarist Shane Parch) first appeared there as a due representing the Piedmont Blues Society in 2010 in the solo/duo category. They returned with the full band in 2011, sponsored by the Sedalia Blues Society, and again in 2012, making it to the semi-finals as representatives of the Natchel Blues Network Blues Society. This disc, recorded in only 14 hours at Memphis’ Young Avenue Sound, this is the band’s first studio album after two previous live releases. It consists of 10 originals and a “bonus track” – a traditional take on the 1928 Robert Wilkins classic, “Prodigal Son.” Co-founder Royce Folks (bass) and Debbie Flood (drums), who worked with five-time Grammy nominee SONiA and Disappear Fear, are high in the mix and drive home the steady rhythm throughout.

The opening title song – a seven-minute, 46-second burner -- kicks off with four solid, stinging guitar notes and a heavy rhythm pattern before Sleepy Eyed Jay, a dynamic and powerful gospel-trained singer with no previous band experience, launches in to the vocal about a woman “who’s forgotten where she’s supposed to lay.” The singer’s a bitter, hard-working man who struggles to put food on the plate. He’s got “a can of gas and a match, y’all – somebody ‘round here is gonna pay.” After a searing guitar solo, the band’s dynamics take the music down to a whisper as the vocalist speculates about his woman’s guilt if she survives the blaze. “Devil Cryin’ In The Churchyard” follows, kicked off by the rhythm section. Ironically, the Devil’s feeling low because he’s tired of the preacher spreading lies and ruining his good name. He claims he’s a decent churchgoer who’s simply been maligned.

“Gotta Woman” is a fun, guitar driven romp about someone who’s “mighty fine” despite having a drinking problem, eats nothing but meat and sleeps all day, among other issues. In this case, love really IS blind – but it also helps that the singer’s got other women scattered all over the place. “Don’t Touch My Liquor” delivers a stern Hill Country warning, highlighted by Jeremy Powell, who sits in on keyboards for three cuts. Sleepy Eyed Jay delivers the powerful “Runnin’ Through The River” from the perspective of a runaway slave who’s attempting to hide his scent. The drums come to the fore as the chase goes forward, supplemented by a foreboding guitar line.

The mood shifts dramatically when the band delivers the rock-tinged “’59 Chevy,” driven by a young man who’s stolen the car from his father as he goes in pursuit of a woman who’s dumped him. An acoustic guitar lead-in and mid-song slide solo highlight “Mexico,” where the singer “has nowhere else to go” after another romantic blow-up and where he hopes to find a friendly mamacita with a beer in each hand. “ While there, he’s probably going to need some “Penicillin,” the next tune, and uptempo shuffle, because “it’s gonna be a hot time tonight.” The disc concludes with “.38 Special Blues,” a piano-rich slow blues threat to a lying friend, and “Death Of Robert,” an interesting tribute to Robert Johnson, before the “Prodigal Son” bonus track.” Traditionalists will recognize it under the title “That’s No Way To Get Along.” It’s the same song the Rolling Stones recorded on “Beggar’s Banquet.”

This is a strong studio debut from a band with plenty of promise. Listen to this one loud, but put away your combustibles. It’s already on fire.
- Marty Gunther, Blues Blast Magazine